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When Penelope posted her Opinion piece about a certain episode of the television series “Seinfeld,” [“From Soup to NUTS!!” - http://www.lit.org/view/39156], a series I never particularly cared for, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to comment with a sly reference from one of MY current favorite television programs, Fox’s “Family Guy” (also shown nightly – late! – during the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” programming block.) I’ll be the first to admit that “Family Guy” is outrageous, most likely an acquired taste, and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, whatever your demographic or intellectual inclination. I happen to think it’s a hoot.

In one famous (at least to fans) scene, most members of the Griffin family (our heroes) are locked in their panic room during a burglary, and the room is flooding (for reasons I can’t remember and that don’t matter.) As the water rises around their necks, father Peter Griffin (who usually takes the stereotyped bumbling sit-com dad to absurd extremes) utters what he thinks may be his last words to his family:

“Did not care for 'The Godfather'.”

This naturally sparks a spirited debate among them regarding the artistic merits of the film, even as the floodwaters continue to rise over their chins. When pressed for his objections, Peter simply states, “It insists upon itself.”

To see the clip for yourself, surf to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOWsSYqrY_s

I didn’t realize until I decided to write my comment that this phrase has apparently become a bit of a catch phrase. If you Google it, you’ll actually find numerous references to it online. One blog in particular riffs on the phrase in a way that ties in to my gut reaction to those episodes of “Seinfeld” that I’ve seen. (Admittedly not many.) The following was written by someone named Suzy Perplexus on hiyaablog.com:

“Why don't you like the $10,000 plastic chair next to the vodka luge? It insists upon itself. Why won't you wait in line for that cigar and whiskey bar? It insists upon itself. Why don't you like that feature-length, silent, avant-garde film? It's too f**king long and boring...and it insists upon itself.”

“I am starting a movement. One where heavy-handed intellectualism, material elitism and inane hipsterism is called out and bitch slapped in the street. I know ‘keepin' it real’ is an early 90's concept and that we're still focusing on the late eighties; however, there's nothing wrong with being an early adopter.”

[http://www.hiyaablog.com/2007/07/it-insists-upon-itself.html]

Can I get an “Amen”?!

To me, “Seinfeld” seemed to grab me by the lapels and earnestly shout, “Hey! Look! Check out how terribly hip and urbane and how very, very About Nothing this show is!” It seemed too self-conscious. It tried too hard to be cool. That’s just how it struck me.

I have no doubt others could fault “Family Guy” and its companion series “American Dad” (in which the bumbling dad is a CIA agent and the family has a goldfish with a German accent and a gay alien living in the attic) on many levels. I certainly wouldn’t insult the intelligence of someone who didn’t “get it.” Maybe I just prefer my comedy on the broad, edgy, outrageous side. Chacun à son goût.


------
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. - Groucho Marx



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Comments

The following comments are for ""It Insists Upon Itself""
by LinnieRed

Viewer discretion advised
You're quite welcome, and thanks for YOUR comment.

Be forewarned if you do decide to check out "Family Guy" - it has classic moments of sharp satire (IMHO) but the title character really is quite a moron (the clip I referenced shows him as uncharacteristically erudite.) Furthermore at times the humor can be quite crude.

Case in point: Tuesday night's "Adult Swim" episode featured father, sons and dog engaged in an ipecac drinking contest. (Ostensibly, the winner would get the last piece of pie, but you know this is the kind of contest no one can win.)After a gratuitously long segment of cartoon vomiting and expressions of agony, just as their misery has finally subsided, mother Lois pops in from the kitchen with a large pot and brightly chirps, "Who wants chowder?"

No lie - I turned to my husband laughing and said, "Now THAT'S great television!"

I know. I'm a sick human being.

I think there's another aspect of my personal taste in television comedy: For whatever reason, in recent years I can't seem to sustain interest in live-action sit-coms, even ones that I like. There's not a current one that I follow the way I follow the Sunday night animated line-up on Fox. (Closest contender: NBC's "My Name is Earl" - so good-natured and good-hearted, you just gotta love it. Even so, I don't watch it regularly.)

Maybe, as my avatar (a Photoshopped version of "Agnes" in her alter ego of "Beat Woman") suggests, I'm really a cartoon character at heart.

( Posted by: LinnieRed [Member] On: August 8, 2007 )

P.S.: Didja notice??
I got the BBCode to work on the italics at the very end of the blog!

I feel so tech-savvy.

( Posted by: LinnieRed [Member] On: August 8, 2007 )

Stereotypes? PC Incorrect, but.....
To quote LinnieRed: "o me, “Seinfeld” seemed to grab me by the lapels and earnestly shout, “Hey! Look! Check out how terribly hip and urbane and how very, very About Nothing this show is!” It seemed too self-conscious. It tried too hard to be cool. That’s just how it struck me."-----

OK, Linnie,

I agree, it was very "self-conscious" and it was loud and demanding, and tried just a little too hard.

The writer of this show, Seinfeld, is Larry David, he was originally from Brooklyn, he went to high school at Sheep's Head Bay with one of my ex-husbands, whose name first name is David. Anyway, in my years with David I met quite a few of his friend's from his old high school years, all Jewish, and I can tell you that there is a lot to the certain Jewish stereotypes, particularly the Ashkenazi Brooklyn Jews.

Watching Larry David's shows Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) and the Seinfeld Show is culture study to me. Brooklyn Jews do tend to be loud, pushy, obnoxious, and very-self-conscious.

They also tend to share a sort of strange, fearful, and somewhat twisted world view and sense of and definite type of almost defensive humor.

Now, the Seinfeld show was an exaggeration on these stereotypes, as is Curb Your Enthusiasm. The fact that non-Jews ( & non-Brooklyn Jews) can relate to this humor fascinates me. I guess there is a little bit of a neurotic, self-conscious, and pushy Jew in many of us? Atleast that's what I've concluded.

I've also concluded that the character of "George" who Larry David meant to be a sort of character of himself, tends to be a little selfish (ya think maybe?) egotistical and fearful. Hey, that was my ex-down to the bone. Weird, huh? Stereotype? Maybe.

BTW, my son watches Family Guy and for the longest time I resisted watching it with him, until finally I gave in, and guess what? I think it's funny. Particularly, little Stewie and the dog.


Thanks for posting this, LinnieRed.

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: August 8, 2007 )

and speaking of stereotypes, try this one out for humor:
A new musical in Scotland:

"JIHAD THE MUSICAL"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeDDb5VYwbY

or

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: August 8, 2007 )

Insisting upon myself
Is the stereo-type neccessarily Jewish? Seems to me, (after years knowing both Jews and New Yorkers, and Jewish New Yorkers) the stereo-type might apply to those circumcized for religious expectations, or those "done" for locker-room reasons... Funny is funny, and we are all funny, espescially when we take ourselves too seriously!

Nice to see you Linnie!
-Elizabeth

( Posted by: emaks [Member] On: August 8, 2007 )

I don't pull this sh** out of my as*
Pen and Emaks,


Yes, funny is funny. That's my whole point. I like funny...and universal humor too, of course, there are certain things in most ethnic humor that everyone can relate to. I'm not Mexican, but I love the humor of George Lopez and Mencina. However, in Jewish humor there is a long history and certain characteristics that came out of the Jewish culture and influenced the developement of humor in the western world, particularly the US.
I really don't want to make a big thing of it, nor am I saying that humor belongs specifically to Jews. I was simply responding to LinnieRed's response to Seinfeld and trying to explain why it possibly is what it is.

And---

I don't pull this stuff out of my a$$. There are whole college thesis on the subject of Jewish Humor, and there a few books and articles about it too. Here are just a couple of references to give you and example.





(1)
Gravity Fails: The Comic Jewish Shaping of Modern America
By James D. Bloom

http://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Fails-Jewish-Shaping-America/dp/027597720X

(2)
Semites and Stereotypes: Characteristics of Jewish Humor
by Anat Zajdman , Avner Ziv

http://www.questia.com/library/book/semites-and-stereotypes-characteristics-of-jewish-humor-by-anat-zajdman-avner-ziv.jsp

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: August 9, 2007 )

Experts & Books
Hey, I'm not going to argue with you Penelope, obviously, you are an "expert" when it comes to the subject humor, I mean, since your sense of humor is so highly developed and all. You might as well tell all those two dozen or so authors of books on this particular subject that they are full of doo-doo.

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: August 9, 2007 )

Let's not sway from the ORIGINAL point.....
Penelope, geezelouise....Let's not distract from the ORIGINAL point I was trying to make about the Seinfeld Show...

Again, my point (as I was explaining to LinnieRed)is that there are 'distinctive characteristics' to Jewish humor, the Seinfeld Show's creater, Larry David's ,humor is a good example of what I mean.

There are various books on the subject of how Jewish humor and Jewish comedians helped shaped American comedy as it is today. One of such book:


Gravity Fails: The Comic Jewish Shaping of Modern America
By James D. Bloom

http://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Fails-Jewish-Shaping-America/dp/027597720X

( Posted by: TheRealKarmaTseringLhamo [Member] On: August 9, 2007 )

Funny.. Hitler, et al
Need everything be so grave? Funny is funny. It needs, usually, no cultural explanation- it's either funny or it's not. Sometimes, it's funny to a particular culture, or funny because of a particular culture, but the best is what is funny despite culture... Humanity is funny- at it's best. Hey, Lil, YOU are funny. (That's a compliment). I like when I make others smile, espescially when they're laughing WITH me...
Seinfeld did this well. Let's take a lesson-


best to all-
B

( Posted by: emaks [Member] On: August 9, 2007 )

Insist Upon Yourself
All else is Fools' Gold

( Posted by: drsoos [Member] On: October 2, 2008 )





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